Scottish Government calls for full engagement in Brexit after lawyer's devolution warning

Written by Mark McLaughlin on 5 October 2016 in News

The Scottish Government calls for full engagement in Brexit after a veteran international lawyer warned leaving the EU could impact on Scotland's devolved interests.

Nicola Sturgeon and Jean-Claude Juncker - Credit: European Commission audiovisual

The Scottish Government has reiterated its call for full engagement in Brexit talks after an international lawyer warned it will get few new powers directly from leaving the European Union.

Professor Alan Page said Westminster will acquire the majority of powers repatriated from Brussels while Holyrood will get "correspondingly few".

Page - who has advised the European Union, the United Nations, the London Stock Exchange, Westminster, Holyrood and other influential organisations during his 40 year career in public law - also warned Brexit would distract Holyrood from implementing its new powers and allow the UK Government to legislate on devolved areas without notifying or seeking the consent of MSPs.


Veteran international lawyer says Holyrood will get few new powers directly from Brexit

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that she was bemused by Prime Minister Theresa May's most recent comments on Scotland's role in Brexit.

Immediately after the Leave vote, May said Scotland would be "fully engaged" in negotiations.

But in her opening speech to the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister said she will "consult and work with the devolved administrations" but that she will "never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of our United Kingdom".

Sturgeon responded that May was "going out of her way to say Scotland's voice and interests don't matter" - and the Page report has caused further disquiet amongst SNP ministers.

Commenting on the report, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The First Minister has set out five key interests which must be protected after Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU: democratic, economic, social protection, solidarity, and influence.  

"The Scottish Government will consider all options to protect those interests and our relationship with the EU. 

“The possible impact signalled by this report on devolved interests only reinforces the need for the UK Government to deliver the Prime Minister’s commitment for full engagement and involvement of the Scottish Government in developing a UK approach and objectives for the negotiations before Article 50 is triggered.”

In the report, Page said: "The UK Parliament would...acquire the majority of the policy responsibilities that would fall to the UK following withdrawal from the EU, including those in respect of the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, and the negotiation and conclusion of trade agreements with non-EU countries.

"The policy responsibilities that would fall to the Scottish Parliament are correspondingly few, the principal ones being in respect of justice and home affairs, agriculture, fisheries and the environment."

He added: "Withdrawal will represent a major challenge for the Scottish Parliament with the potential to detract from other inquiry and scrutiny work at a time when it is assuming new responsibilities under the Scotland Act 2016."

He continued: “At the moment there is no requirement for the Scottish Parliament’s consent to UK subordinate legislation transposing EU obligations in the devolved areas; nor is the Parliament routinely informed about such legislation.

“The situation could thus arise in which the UK legislated extensively in areas devolved to Scotland without seeking the consent of the Scottish Parliament as there would be no requirement of its consent in relation to subordinate legislation altering the effects of EU law in the devolved areas."

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